Editor’s Letter – 10/3/18
Anita Hill was born in eastern Okmulgee County, in a rural community called Lone Tree, about an hour southwest of Tulsa. By the time she testified that she was sexually harassed by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, she was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, holding a bachelor’s from Oklahoma State in addition to her J.D. from Yale.
Every region tells its own myth. Ours is that we’re hardworking and plainspoken—that we do the right thing, and we do right by our neighbors. Hill worked hard to get from Okmulgee County to the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, only to be verbally abused and humiliated by her boss until she left.
Despite the risks, when Anita Hill learned the same creep who forced a subordinate into disturbing sexual talk was about to be nominated to the highest court in the land, she stuck out her neck and did what was right. She spoke plainly about what happened, to protect her fellow citizens from an abuser on his way to becoming one of the most powerful people in the United States.
Hill’s heroism embodies the mythical “Oklahoma Standard,” and we should all be proud to count her among our rank in this beautiful, stupid place we call home. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to appreciate her bravery as you absorb the current horror show and the residual trauma it may be churning up.
I didn’t watch the live testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, because I was editing this paper you’re reading right now. Still, it felt like I was running a low-grade fever all day—which is basically how I’ve felt since Nov. 6, 2016, and how I imagine many women and survivors of abuse must regularly feel as they navigate a rotten system designed to discredit their experiences and dismiss their personhood.
I believe Dr. Ford. I believe Anita Hill. I believe the dozens of women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, and I believe the more than 20 who have accused the sitting president. I believe the president, too, when he brags about a life of grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without their permission. (“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” the billionaire reminds us and our families.)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Our cover story is by former TTV editor Liz Blood, whose data-driven plunge on the topic is absolutely essential reading. I’m thrilled to print her work, so deep and clear and urgent, especially after admiring what she did with this paper for so long. To be able to share this story with you, during a moment as repulsive and full of opportunity as this one, is a very sharp honor. Nearly enough to break a fever.